I had a front row seat to a dear friend’s alcoholism some two years ago, and eventually led an intervention to get him into detox and rehab. He thankfully made it through both, but has had episodic relapses that have required returns to rehab, and his future is far from certain. More recently, I almost lost a friend to drug addiction. He also required extensive rehab, and has been faring relatively well since being discharged though his future, too, is far from certain. One lost his job after previously losing his wife and kids. The other is back at work after a lengthy stint on disability.
Sadly, we know all too little about the myriad catalysts working within the brain that take so many people to places we can only assume they’d much rather not go (to say nothing of dealing with the occasional difficulties of day-to-day life). The country is now squarely in the grip of a horrible opioid addiction, with Prince looking like the most recent celebrity to have succumbed. And if you’re unaware or not sufficiently scared by what’s going on, watch Bill Maher interview Richard Taite, who heads up Cliffside Malibu, one of the most successful rehab facilities in the country. The point is, we have a growing problem on our hands. Lots of people who are looking for a way forward. There are organizations – both public and private – that seek to provide solutions. And they should, if they’re on the up-and-up, be given every incentive to do just that.
After his nomination-clinching win in Indiana, Donald Trump said (emphasis mine):
“We’re going to bring back our jobs, and we’re going to save our jobs, and people are going to have great jobs again, and this country, which is very, very divided in so many different ways, is going to become one beautiful loving country, and we’re going to love each other, we’re going to cherish each other and take care of each other, and we’re going to have great economic development and we’re not going to let other countries take it away from us, because that’s what’s been happening for far too many years and we’re not going to do it anymore,” he said. (That’s a single sentence, if you’re keeping track at home.).
It appears one of Mr. Trump’s sons, Eric, simply isn’t on board with his Dad’s laudable goals. And therein lies an interesting story:
Recently, a nationally renowned eating disorders treatment facilities operator applied to open a facility – a residential group home – in a village where Eric Trump and his wife maintain a residence. The operator proposed to buy a large, spacious single family home for the purpose of housing and treating 8-12 teen girls with eating disorders, exactly as they are permitted to do under state law. Neighbors, indeed a neighborhood association of which Trump is a member, were immediately up in arms screaming NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) and, in fact, a lawsuit – which will go nowhere – has been filed. The operator would pay taxes, prohibit on-street parking at its property, landscape and maintain its property and, importantly, not use local resources to educate the girls it treats – tutors would be brought in at the expense of the girls’ local school districts.
A letter from concerned citizens – the aforementioned neighborhood association – to their local board of trustees ended as follows:
This from a fellow who’s established a foundation bearing his name. The hypocrisy could not be more stark – he’s all about helping the less fortunate, as long as it’s not done anywhere near him. (Both The Donald and his son took the ALS challenge). The letter onto which the Trumps put their name carried the standard NIMBY disclaimer:
Of course, we are very sympathetic to the plight of those suffering from eating disorders or any other disability. This is obvious and need not be discussed.
Yes, it’s “obvious.” Of course we’re sympathetic. We’re just not sufficiently sympathetic that we’d want any of those teen girls treated anywhere near us. What if one of them breaks into my kitchen to binge out of my fridge? Or perhaps purges on my lawn? Then what?
To its credit, the local board of trustees, while not offering up a full-throated endorsement of the proposal, somewhat grudgingly voted not to stand in the way, thereby paving the way for the facility to move forward, notwithstanding the frivolous suit that’s been filed.
The cowardice shown by Trump and his neighbors does nothing more than perpetuate the shameful stigmatization of all those with mental illnesses. We – he – should be better than that. We should aspire to more. We should, indeed, aspire to love each other, cherish each other and take care of each other, as his father put it. Influential as he likely is in his suburban community, Trump could have made a big difference. He could have been a leader in helping to destigmatize mental illness in all its forms. He could have shown his community a better way forward. Instead, he fell in line with his NIMBY-crazed neighbors in trying (hopefully in vain) to ensure that a bunch of teen girls are denied – at least anywhere near him – the help they so desperately need.
Shame on him.
(Inside Edition, call me!)
Noteworthy: Eric, born in 1984, never knew his uncle Freddy, an alcoholic who, sadly, passed away in 1981 at the age of only 43. Point being, unlike people, these are problems that do not discriminate. No one is immune.